"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fort Worth Responds to Exec. Council Attack of Last Week

I am so honored to serve Christ under the godly leadership of Bishop Iker and Dean Reed (who is the Chairman of our Standing Committee as well as my "boss" at the Cathedral). Here is our diocese's response to the national Executive Council's declaring the preamble of our diocesan Constitution "null and void" last week:

A Statement of the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth concerning certain actions of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church

The adversarial relationship between this Diocese and the leadership of The Episcopal Church was exacerbated by two decisions made by the Executive Council of TEC at its meeting last week.

I. The Council’s refusal to participate in the Pastoral Scheme developed by the Dar es Salaam primates’ Meeting has deepened our sense of alienation from TEC. Instead of “waging reconciliation,” the Council has failed to respond to the expressed needs of those dioceses appealing for Alternative Primatial Oversight, pushing us further apart from TEC. They have claimed that the Pastoral Council proposal violates the polity of TEC, but they have been unable to substantiate this by citing any constitutional or canonical provisions to that effect.

II. Claiming an authority that our polity does not give, the Council has declared certain amendments to our Diocesan Constitution “null and void.” To this, we respond, first, that it is not within the scope of duties assigned to the Executive Council to render findings as to the legality or constitutionality of actions by the several dioceses of The Episcopal Church; and second, that resolutions adopted by the Council, or even by the General Convention, are non-binding. Therefore, this resolution is nothing more than an opinion expressed by those individuals who issued the statement. It is itself “null and void“ – unenforceable and of no effect. This action is another example of the heavy-handed tactics being used by those who do not have the right to interfere in the internal constitutional process of the dioceses.

While the Council’s resolutions on a range of subjects may excite debate, that does not guarantee their opinions are consistent with the Faith, the law of the land, or the Constitution of The Episcopal Church, much less that they establish precedent. That the Council would attempt to interfere now, nearly 20 years after this diocese first amended its Constitution, is evidence of an illegitimate magisterial attitude that has emerged in the legislative function of TEC. Sadly, the one thing the resolution does show is that there is no desire on the part of the Council for reconciliation with those alienated by the recent actions of General Convention.

The Council’s threats may continue, but we will continue to stand for the historic biblical faith and our Lord Jesus Christ’s call to extend His Kingdom. We regret that a further deterioration in our relationship with TEC has been effected by these decisions.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

The Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed
President, Standing Committee

June 19, 2007


Blogger Ghost of Amon G. Carter said...

Is this really a brave response in any sense? The diocese of Fort Worth is at the mercy of ECUSA so long as the Bishop refuses to release his grip on worldly property. Look what happened to the South Carolina dicocese when they needed a new Bishop. What makes Fort Worth any different? If, God forbid, something happened to Bishop Iker tomorrow, the faithful Christians in the Fort Worth diocese would be subject to the whims of ECUSA.

True courage entails standing for Christ. Bishop Iker should, without hesitation, announce that the Fort Worth diocese has no affiliation with ECUSA. Remove "Episcopal" from every name, sign, or symbol associated with the diocese. Then, in accordance with our calling, bring the Diocese together with the Catholic church.

Why not? Why is that not our calling? Or, will we all slide to hell with pieces of bricks and mortar embedded in our fingernails?

As a layperson, I always wonder what variable of the equation I'm missing. Please explain why parishoners should not all stand up Sunday and walk away from the Diocese and toward our brothers and sisters in Christ in other denominations. Are we being held hostage because because our clergy fear losing something? Is that reason enough to delay?

11:53 PM  
Anonymous William Tighr said...

Well, this is strange; to have all the "captions" in Latvian (my wife's language): es nezinu ka tu vari runat latviski.

Anyway, if you are able, could you please kindly inform me what are those amendments to the diocesan constitution of some years standing to which the EC has taken exception. I heard yesterday that they pertained to property issues, and that I could fins more specifics on the diocesan website, but when I went there I "got lost" and could find nothing.

My e-mail address is tighe.at.muhlenberg.edu.

6:43 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Dr. Tighe,
815 has been most in a snit about the changes made to the accession clause of our diocesan constitution ten years ago. They do not like our "null and void" clause. It now reads:


The Church in this Diocese accedes to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and recognizes the authority of the General Convention of said Church provided that no action of General Convention which is contrary to Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Teaching of the Church shall be of any force or effect in this Diocese.

Revised November, 1997

7:07 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

The other hotly debated part of our diocesan constitution is found in ARTICLE 14, which deals with property and does not make the dioceses trusteeship to the benefit of the national Episcopal church. This was last modified in the late 1980's.


The title to all real estate acquired for the use of the Church in this Diocese, including the real property of all Parishes and Missions, as well as Diocesan Institutions, shall be held subject to control of the Church in The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth acting by and through a corporation known as "Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth". All such property as well as all property hereafter acquired for the use of the Church and the Diocese, including Parishes and Missions, shall be vested in Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth shall hold real property acquired for the use of a particular Parish or Mission in trust for the use and benefit of such Parish or Mission. The income from such property shall belong to such Parish or Mission, which will be responsible for expenses attributable thereto. Such property may not be conveyed, leased or encumbered by Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth without the consent of the Rector, Wardens and Vestry of such Parish or Mission. Upon dissolution of such Parish or Mission, property held in trust for it shall revert to said Corporation for the use and benefit of the Diocese, as such.

All other property belonging to the Diocese, as such, shall be held in the name of the Corporation known as "Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth", and no conveyance or encumbrance of any kind shall be valid unless executed by such Corporation and as may otherwise be provided by the Canons of the Diocese.

Revised October, 1989

The diocesan constitution may be found at http://www.fwepiscopal.org/resources/resources.html

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some people in the Fort Worth diocese that wish to remain in the Episcopal Church. That is why renouncing affiliation with TEC will not work across the board. There are a few vestries in Fort Worth that would not comply with an order to remove "Episcopal" from their parish's signs. (I can think of at least two at the moment, the ones that voted to leave the Network immediately come to mind). The crux of the problem is that if Bishop Iker ceases to be Episcopalian, he will have to give up the Episcopal Bishop's seat in Fort Worth (one who renounces the Episcopal Church cannot continue in the Episcopal ministry according to National Canons). The titles of ALL OF THE DIOCESAN PROPERTIES will come into question (by 815) at that point. I'm sure the Episcopal Church will stake a claim for them on the grounds that Bishop Iker has "left his seat" as EPISCOPAL Bishop of Fort Worth. At such a time, I'm sure the Episcopal Church will appoint another bishop to take over pastoral care for the diocese (and try to seize all the titles and keys to the churches, schools, diocesan offices, camp, etc.) until such time as the remaining Episcopalians can get together to elect their own standing committee, executive council, and delegates to form a new convention to elect a bishop who WILL AGREE TO BE EPISCOPALIAN. It's the EPISCOPAL CHURCH in Fort Worth that elected Bishop Iker, NOT the Network, which cannot technically be called a church by itself (that's why there are so many splinter groups with their flying Bishops in the Network).

That is also the reason why Bishop Iker is not making hasty moves to renounce the Episcopal Church, remove "Episcopal" from all church signs (although I have heard that individual churches have been given the authority to do so if they choose), or to step down from his Bishop's seat in the Episcopal Church.

Saying how awful the Episcopal Church is while also continuing to be a part of it is what I consider to be the devil's work. The strategy of "divide and conquer" seems to be very effective around Fort Worth. Accentuating differences, invoking arguements, insisting on "my way or the highway", and continuing to be obsessed with the problems (and refusing to work on our future as a church) has contributed to the current "stuck in a rut" , I'm a victim" mentality. I truly believe that conservatives CAN CONTINUE within the Episcopal Church ESPECIALLY within the conservative backdrop of Fort Worth. Here, we are NOT being threatened with gay unions or other innovations that some do not accept.

The diocese signed a little piece of paper at its founding that says it will accede to the canons of the Episcopal Church. When it ceases to do so, it ceases to be an organized Episcopal Diocese, and I think the Episcopal Church will send people to re-organize it in such a case.

1:22 AM  

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